Yes, still sober, and this despite a prolonged visit to a few bars yesterday. Noo had asked if she could spend the evening, (and night) with a friend who was coming to Pattaya for the night from her home near Chon Buri. I had met this friend when Noo and I had driven out to meet her and her American boyfriend one Sunday and when I spoke to her on the phone to confirm the arrangements, I wasn’t in the slightest doubt that Noo was telling me the truth.
I was happy that Noo would be spending some time with friends, as I am always concerned that she will become bored, spending all her time, as she does, with a grumpy old man who occupies an inordinate amount of his waking hours on his computer.
Anyway, Sunday was a good day for me, as a couple of my friends are usually propping up a bar around the lake on a Sunday and a quick afternoon call confirmed this to be the case.
I had spent the morning working on my new novel and had had enough of that by mid afternoon, so after confirming there was someone to chat to, I made my farewells to Noo and drove around the lake for a somewhat marathon session of chatting. I think the three of us were at one bar for around three hours and during that time, I drunk two glasses of Diet Coke and one of my friends, who arrived there just before me, had drunk 8 glasses of whisky.
The second man was on beer and had been there longer than either of us and he didn’t confide with us how many beers he had drunk, when he departed at dusk. As far as we could see, he was pretty much drunk out of his mind when he climbed into his SUV for his journey home. Now I’m not about to take a ‘holier than thou’ attitude to drunk driving, as God knows, I have been guilty of it myself on so many, many occasions, some of which, as my long time readers are aware, have resulted in serious accidents, but mercifully no serious injuries to me or to others.
The fact remains that virtually every person who pulls up to bar around the lake, either in a car, SUV, pick-up truck or motor cycle, will drive back home – or to another bar – well over the limit, and in some instances pissed out of their minds.
My friend, the aforementioned ‘beer’ man is a bit of a worry. He is clearly an alcoholic and he starts his day in the early morning with a few bottles of Singha beer and by the time he gets home from the bar in the evening, he is very drunk, often passing out on his sofa. He always drives home ‘just before the bewitching hour’, (his words; he means just before it gets dark), as once night descends he has great trouble in seeing the road properly and whenever he encounters a vehicle coming in the opposite direction with their head lights on, he is ‘blinded’ and always sees double the amounts of lights that are really there. In other words, he has ‘double vision’. It is worrying – very worrying. I can’t help feeling that it is only matter of time before something bad happens.
I know I’m no saint and I know that I am as guilty of drink driving as any on the road. But I like to think those days are really behind me, and as I build up my days of sobriety, I do find myself worrying more and more about all the countless drivers – farang and Thai – who drive in this town while under the influence.
It is a subject that I deal with at length in my novel.
Anyway, after the three hours and two Cokes at one bar, my friend and I moved on to a second bar, a short distance away and there I had one glass of water while my friend had a few more whiskies during the next couple of hours. I confess that I did buy a girl that I had known for a long time a few ladies’ drinks, but I was really just going through the motions as I had no real interest in her.
Just before nine I drove home and made myself a ham and cheese sandwich, popped it in my electric ‘toastie’ and then had a long web cam chat on Skype with my sister and brother- in-law who live in South Africa. We had a good old natter as we haven’t spoken for over a year and I was pleased to see she was looking so well. Last year she had a lot of problems with her crippling arthritis and had to undergo some very painful surgery on her feet.
My family are all planning a grand get together in England, next August, to celebrate my youngest daughter’s wedding. My sister confirmed that they will be flying over so it will be my first opportunity to see them for many years. I haven’t seen any of my family since 2005 when I was last in England with my wife, Dang, so I miss them all terribly.
In all, I have a brother, his wife, their daughter and her baby girl (my grandniece), my two daughters and their husband/fiancé, three first cousins, my sister’s two sons, (my nephews) and their wives/girlfriends, plus my sister and husband. So it will be quite a gathering of the Mobi clan if we all make it there without dropping dead on the way!! (I am the youngest brother).
The Skype chat was over and back to the kitchen to find my ‘toastie sandwich’ burnt to a cinder. I had forgotten to turn the machine off.
There was nothing else I fancied in the fridge so I jumped in my car and drove around to a’ short time’ bar I knew off Nern Plub Wan that does very tasty baguettes for 100 Baht a pop. Well that was my excuse. By the time I arrived it was nearly 10.30 at night but they confirmed that I could order some food, so I sat at the bar and watched all the girls laughing and dancing. They were entertaining themselves as Mobi was the only customer. I was attracted by one particularly buxom lass who insisted on raising her skirt above her waist and her bra-less top down to the waist, showing the most delectable pair of gourds I have seen in many a long year.
Well, I came for the baguette but I couldn’t resist the ‘afters’ – not that I did anything too naughty. I just entertained the buxom wench at the bar while munching on my baguette. In between mouthfuls of crunchy bread, ham cheese and salami, I amused myself on the wonderful bare nipples that were caressing my chest and the enticing thighs that were massaging me in the nether regions.
Ah well, I decided I was too old for all that malarkey and had no intention of being unfaithful to the lovely Noo. So I bought the lass a couple of drinks, gave her a generous tip and disappeared back to my car, leaving her pouting at the front door, all her expectations of a ‘short time fuck’ having come to naught.
Back home, alone, I suddenly felt very tired – I know not why – and after a quick half hour in front of the TV, I made my way to bed and let Fox News send me to sleep. I didn’t even stay up to watch my beloved Spurs earn a boring nil /nil draw with Manu. So it was just as well.
This morning I was woken just after ten by the sound of a vacuum cleaner busily cleaning the floor. I remembered that I had locked the bedroom door, so this was obviously little Noo’s way of letting me know that she was back and working hard in the house. She is such a gem – I could never hurt her.
Today I have finished chapter 3 of my novel; another marathon of nearly 12,000 words. It’s been a difficult chapter, as those who know me well will probably appreciate. But it’s done and I hope I have given the subject matter justice. From now on in it should be relatively easy going, I hope…..
Ying turned her Honda jazz into her driveway and drove slowly under the carport with her car stereo blaring out the latest hip-hop so loudly that when she opened the front door it sounded like one of those mobile discos – the ones that drive along Pattaya’s roads at night, blaring out music so loud, that you could barely even think, let alone hear yourself speak. The deafening noise reverberated harshly across the peaceful, still night, where, until Ying’s abrupt arrival, the only sounds to be heard were those of the toads in a nearby pond, emitting their repetitive mating calls.
She cut the ignition and suddenly the world returned to its state of somnolence and once more the toads held pride of place in the humid night air. Ying unlocked the side door to the house, dumped her handbag on the dining table and then summoned up one last burst of energy to climb up the central staircase, enter her enormous bedroom and collapse, fully clothed, on her bed. She lay there for a few minutes, unable to move. She had been drinking but was not totally drunk – she had drunk just enough to make her woozy and very sleepy.
It had been a very long day. She had been woken before 8 a.m. that morning by the girl who usually opened her hair dressing salon, with the news that she was sick and would not be able to make it to work that day. Ying had only had about 4 hours sleep and it took all her will power to drag herself out of bed, have a quick shower before jumping into her car and making it to her salon before the opening time of 9 a.m.
She had spent the whole day in her salon and at around 8 p.m. she had driven to a friend’s house where they had spent the next seven hours playing cards and sipping Bacardi Breezers. By 3 a.m. Ying had lost about three hundred baht and she decided to call it a night. She would have to get up early, yet again, to open her shop in the morning.
She roused herself briefly – just long enough to pull off her jeans and top before collapsing once more onto her bed. She lay there for a few minutes with her eyes closed, but for some reason sleep wouldn’t come, a problem she often encountered when she was over-tired. She was so tired but her mind kept going round and round. What sort of life was this? Living in this huge house virtually all alone; trying to keep it in in a half way decent state on a minimal budget and trying to start a business that seemed to be going nowhere. Now her assistant was ill and she couldn’t even get a decent night’s sleep. She knew with a sure fired certainty that she was unlikely to make it to her salon much before noon in the morning. She was just too tired. She idly speculated on how many customers she might lose due to her expected, unscheduled closure? It had been difficult enough to find customers in the first place, and now she would be effectively sending them away. What a mess! How had it come to all this?
Ying was born in a small village in Sa Kaeo Province thirty three years ago, and was to be the eldest of four children, two boys and two girls. They were poor, very poor, and knew what it was to feel hunger in their stomachs. Ying’ mother was totally dependent on the small amount of money given to her by her common law husband and there were times when they didn’t eat for several days, when Ying’s father would unexpectedly disappear to who knows where?
Her father was a local mafia figure and Ying’s mother was only one of several women he had set up home with, none of whom he was legally married to. He was a hardened drinker and treated his families with disdain and not a little violence. Ying could recall many occasions, when she was a young girl, that her father would come home drunk and shout and beat her mother on the slightest pretext.
When she was five years old, Ying was sent to a government school which was located some eight kilometres from her home. It was a long, two hour walk; she had to get up in the middle of the night to make it to school in time, and the meagre few Baht that her mother gave her was barely enough to cover the cost of a single, basic meal. Upon her return home, she had to do her share of the housework as well as help take care of her younger brothers and sisters.
Life was very hard, but it was tolerable for the young Ying, as she had never known any other. She loved her mother, who was a dear, kind, hard -working soul and she doted on her little sister and brothers. Ying was a quite bright and did well in school; by the time she was eight years old she was literate and was turning into a fine-looking young girl.
Unfortunately, her family’s precarious existence, reliant on the whims of a drunken, criminal father, suddenly changed for the worst. She had just arrived home from school one day to find her father talking to one of his drinking fiends outside her home. Suddenly a man on a motorcycle drove up, stopped in the middle of the road and fired a gun, point blank, at her father’s head. The man drove off and her father fell to the ground, mortally wounded. Ying’s mother rushed out, with her three young children following close behind. Nobody liked Ying’s father, he was always too drunk and scary to be a figure of affection. But the sight of him being slain in front of them, in broad daylight, was too much for this tightly-knit family of five and they all grabbed hold of their father, crying and wailing in despair.
Ying’s mother was distraught. What was to become of them, now that the breadwinner – however unsatisfactory – was dead? How could they live without his occasional monetary hand-outs? She couldn’t go to work because she had three young children to take care of.
But worse was to come.
Within 2 days of her father’s death, his next of kin came to see Ying’s mother. They told her that her ‘husband’ had owned the land on which their primitive house stood and now that he was dead, the land reverted to his immediate, legal relatives. They told her that she had no right to any of his estate as there hadn’t been a legal marriage. Then the full, dreadful extent of what had happened was hammered home. They told Ying’s mother, that she and her family had exactly one week to get out of the house and find somewhere new to live.
To the almost destitute family, this was appalling news indeed. They had no money and nowhere to live.
Ying’s mother was originally from Chaiyaphoom, in the Northeast of Thailand and as a young lady, she, along with many of her extended family, had migrated to Sa Kaeo province to find work and new life. Years later, that whole area of Sa Kaeo where Ying’s family had come to live, had become entirely populated by Issan folk; they all spoke Issan at home and in their villages. They had all migrated to Sa Kaeo in the hope of a better life but to visitors to that region, it was as though they were visiting a part of Issan.
Ying’s mother decided that the only thing she could was to take her young family with her back to a village, about twenty kilometres away, where her father was still living. It was there, some ten years ago, that Ying’s father had first met her mother and had taken her away to live in his own village. Ying still remembered that long, arduous trek, the five of them dressed in tatters, carrying all their worldly possessions either balanced on their shoulders or piled perilously high on a primitive two-wheeled cart, which they had borrowed from a kind neighbour. The trip took two exhausting days to complete. And at long last they made it back to where Ying’s grandfather had made his home.
They found the grandfather in reasonable health, but eking out a poor existence as a labourer. He did, however, own a good sized plot of village land, which he had been sensible enough to buy at a give-away price some years ago, when the previous owner had been desperate for money. His wife, Ying’s Grandmother, had died many years ago and he lived alone in a small, makeshift house, which he had built himself. He told Ying’s mother that she was welcome to have the remaining part of his unused land for her family to live on.
Ying’s mother had no money to build a house, and for months the family had to make do with a few sheets of rusty corrugated iron, made into a lean-to against some trees for them to live in.
Her mother went to work in the rice paddy fields from dawn to dusk to earn enough money to feed her family, who now had to fend for themselves for much of the time. Ying returned to her village school and despite the harsh conditions under which she lived and the responsibilities she had to endure during the evenings and weekends, she continued to make good grades. Not only did she have to look after the family but she often had to join her mother working in the rice paddies to supplement their meagre income.
When Ying’s mother was able to transfer the parcel of land where they lived into her own name, she was able to borrow some money from a local bank, using the land as security.She used the money to build a primitive house for her family to live in. It was more of a shack than a house, but it did put a proper roof over their heads, and did provide them with a proper, albeit very basic, toilet. This was to be Ying’s family home for many years to come.
Life dragged on like this for several years and Ying’s younger sister and brothers started school and her mother continued to keep finances afloat by her daily labour in the paddy fields. But on her twelfth birthday, Ying’s mother sat her down and told her that she could no longer afford to keep her at school and she must now make a full time contribution to the family’s finances. Ying had been expecting this. For some time, she had been aware of her mother’s problems in keeping up the payments on the loan she had taken out some years before to build their house. This, together with the added cost of sending her brothers and sisters to school had produced yet another serious crisis for the family.
Some friends in the village had arranged for Ying’s mother to be put in touch with a well-to-do middle class family from Bangkok who was in need of a live-in maid. The arrangement was that the Bangkok family would pay a lump sum to Ying’s mother which would enable her to pay off her loan. In return, Ying would go to Bangkok and work as their maid until she was eighteen years old. She would be paid a small monthly salary which would be sent to her family in Sa Kaeo. In effect, Ying became an ‘indentured servant’.
It could have been much worse, but the family were decent folk, and although they made Ying work very hard, they treated her quite well, fed her properly and kept to their agreement to send monthly remittances to Ying’s mother.
For Ying, while being devastated at having to give up school and being separated from her family, she considered the so-called hard work as ‘child’s play’ compared to that she had endured for the first 12 years of her life. The family grew very fond of her and allowed her to make regular trips home where she was pleased to find that the money she was earning had improved the lot of her family.
In particular, her mother no longer had to do her back breaking work in the paddy fields, which was very welcome news. All those years in the hot, unremitting sun, up to her knees in muddy water with her back bent at acute angles had left her with permanent backache and severe arthritis. She had difficulty in getting about even though she was only in her forties. But the poor lady looked to be in her sixties.
Ying was seventeen when she met a young Thai man, Udom, who literally ‘swept her off her feet’. Udom was from the south of Thailand – Surat Thani – and worked in Bangkok as a cook in a Thai restaurant which Ying used to go to occasionally with her employer’s family. The restaurant was within walking distance of where she lived and after a number of late night, clandestine meetings, when everyone but the young couple were fast asleep, they fell in love and resolved to set up home together.
Although Ying had been ‘indentured’ until her eighteenth birthday, her employer was amenable to releasing her early, no doubt partly because the arrangement had absolutely no legality under Thai Law and if Ying were to complain to the police about the arrangement, they could be in trouble. In any event, through the years there had developed a loving relationship between Ying and the family, so they wished her well in her new life with this young cook with whom she had fallen in love.
The young couple’s plan was to return to Udom’s home in the south of Thailand, where he would open a small restaurant. They could both work there and Ying would be able to continue to send money home to her mother.
Things started well enough. Udom borrowed some money from his parents and he leased a run-down restaurant in Surat, where the two of them worked hard to get it back on its feet. Udom would do all the cooking and Ying would do just about everything else; from getting up at the crack of dawn to take a bus down to the local market and buy the produce, to help prepare the food, to waitressing to washing the dishes and clearing up at the end of the day.
It was hard work and Ying had no time for herself. By the time they closed up in the evening, she would be exhausted and would immediately collapse into a deep sleep as she had to get up very early every morning to do the day’s shopping. At first, business was very slow, but over the weeks and then months, it grew steadily and they were just about able to make ends meet. But every time Ying asked Udom for some money to send to her mother, he made an excuse to postpone sending any – citing the need to buy more stock or some essential, new item of cooking equipment.
Ying’s mother back in Sa Kaeo was very perturbed by the unsatisfactory course of events and when she found out that her daughter had ‘fled’ to the south of Thailand with some young ‘ne’er-do-well’ she was very angry and worried about how she would be able to support her family.
Ying fretted more and more about her mother and her family but was now totally committed to the relationship and lived in hope that business would improve to the point where Udom would be able to give her some money to send back home. About six months after she had moved to the south, Ying’s commitment became even more cemented. She discovered she was pregnant.
As happens so often in Thailand, particularly among the working classes, a pregnancy presages the beginning of a breakdown in a relationship. So it was for Ying. As soon as she told Udom that she was carrying his baby, he seemed to lose interest in her as a lover. She still had to work from dawn to dusk to support his shaky business, but as soon as the restaurant was closed up at night, Udom disappeared into the nearby town and wouldn’t return home to the small hours, reeking of cheap, Thai whisky.
It was a difficult and very sad period in Ying’s young life. She was carrying a baby, had to work like a slave, and received no affection or care from the man that she still loved, but who was obviously taking his pleasures elsewhere.
The pregnancy duly went to full term, despite the harsh conditions in which Ying was living and working and she delivered her son, Mac, at the local hospital, with the minimum of fuss. Udom had been out enjoying himself when Ying had been rushed into hospital by some concerned neighbours, and he only made it to her bedside the following morning where he immediately checked them out of the hospital and took mother and son back home and put Ying back to work.
If Ying thought that life was difficult before, she was now finding her daily existence almost unbearable. Almost from the day she delivered her baby, Udom had forced her back to work in the restaurant. He warned her that if she didn’t work, there would be no food for her and baby Mac.
So work she did, much as before, but now she also had her baby to take care of at the same time and life became ever more desperate. Unfortunately, things were to get even worse. Udom’s increasing propensity for alcohol had reached the point where he would drink during the day, while working in the kitchen.
The result of this was that he was becoming increasingly violent towards his family. The slightest perceived mistake or failure to do things exactly how he wanted them done would result in a hard slap and even the occasional punch to Ying’s head. Even the young baby was not spared. Sometimes, when Ying was too busy working to take care of the baby and stop him crying, Udom would grab the baby, hold him out in front of him and shake him violently.
Ying was terrified that Udom might do permanent damage to the baby, or even kill him, in a drunken fit of temper so she decided that enough was enough and that she had to get out of this miserable, loveless and abusive relationship. How to get out? It was a problem. Now Udom was drinking during the day on a regular basis, he didn’t go out very often, as it was cheaper to drink at home. By late evening , when the restaurant closed, he would usually collapse in a drunken stupor and sleep the night away.
Ying had managed to secretly save enough money to buy a bus fare to get herself and her son out of the south and back to Sa Kaeo. She knew she wouldn’t be welcome there and she knew that her mother would be very angry with her, but she had nowhere else to go. The problem was how to leave home without her ‘husband’ discovering what she was up to and preventing her from leaving? He would be lost without her as he would have no-one to do all the work that his ‘wife’ was doing for nothing. Even if she was physically strong enough to get away from him, she could never do so carrying a young baby, barely six months old. Udom might grab the baby and make all manner of dire threats in order to keep her there with him.
She resolved to wait until Udom went out one night, but day followed day and week followed week and he never went out; he just drunk himself to sleep every night at home. In the end, Ying gave up waiting and decided to take a chance one night when Udom was asleep.
Many years later, she was to tell the tale of that night to her son, Mac and he would cry into his mother’s arms, just imagining what she had gone through to get away from his violent, selfish father.
It was past midnight when Ying, with a small bundle of clothes and little Mac in her arms, crept fearfully out of the room they shared with Udom and took the long, lonely walk to the bus stop, 2 kilometres away. As they left the house, Ying whispered to Mac to keep quiet, for if he started crying then surely Udom would wake up and realise what was happening.
They had six long hours to wait for the early morning bus that would take them to Bangkok and at every moment, Ying was terrified that Udom would wake up, discover them gone and come looking for them. The first place he would look would be the bus stop and if he did track them down, then the game was up. Ying had never prayed so much in all her young life and she couldn’t believe her eyes when the bus eventually appeared out of the morning gloom and she wearily but happily climbed on board to leave her common law husband forever.
Ying was dreading her arrival back home in Sa Kaeo and had no idea what might await her when she spent her last reaming few Baht on a tuk-tuk which took the two of them from Sa Kaeo bus station to her village, some 15 kilometres away.
Ying’s mother was not an easy woman to live with – Her life had been too full of suffering and misery for her not to take everything that happened very seriously. She almost never smiled and she had a very sharp tongue, when the occasion demanded it. So Ying was in trepidation of what might happen when she arrived, as not only had she not sent any money for almost two years, but her mother was totally unaware that she now had a little grandson.
In the event she needn’t have worried. Ying’s mother was a hard woman but she was also a compassionate and loving mother. She took one look at her daughter and grandchild arriving in the back of a rusty old, smoke-belching tuk-tuk and she hobbled over to them at a surprising speed; literally lifting the two of them out of their seats and hugging them to her ample bosoms, with her tears flowing down her gnarled, sun blackened cheeks.
Ying was as thin as a rake and barely weighed 40 kilos; her baby was also very thin and undernourished. So her brothers and sisters gathered round to comfort their eldest sister after the ordeal she had been through and within a short while, her extended family – her aunts and uncles and cousins who lived nearby – also came to welcome her home and to hear of her exploits during the past two years.
Ying’s mother had managed to make ends meet by once again borrowing money on the land that she owned and Ying soon learnt that the money had nearly run out and that something had to be done as a matter of urgency. She had been home for three weeks when she came to the conclusion that it was going to be down to her, yet again, to bail her family out. But what could she do? Where could she find work?
This dilemma was put on temporary hold by the unexpected arrival of Udom in the village. Ying had never expected for one moment that Udom would find out where her family lived, much less bother to follow her there. It transpired that within days of Ying fleeing, Udom had been obliged to do a ‘moonlight flit’ from the restaurant himself due to mounting, unpaid debts and he had gone to Bangkok to obtain Ying’s address from the family she used to work for.
Udom told Ying that he was very sorry for the way he had treated her and their son and he begged her to go back to him. He said that he had learnt his lesson and next time he would treat her properly and take good care of them. But Ying wanted none of it. She had taken an enormous risk to get herself and her baby away from his drunken clutches and was not about to go back. She told him bluntly that it was all over and that he better get out of her village before she found some people to remove him.
Udom quickly realised that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with Ying and he left Sa Kaeo the same day. But it was a while before he gave up completely. After all, despite her worryingly thin stature, Ying was flowering into a very beautiful young lady and he now regretted the way he had treated her. He realised that he was still in love with her and desperately wanted her and his son back with him. He would return to Ying’s village several times in the vain hope that time would heal Ying’s anger and that she would eventually relent and return to live with him. But on the last occasion that he came to find her and try to persuade her, Ying was already long gone, leaving little Mac back in the village for her mother to look after.
Ying had gone to Bangkok to earn money to feed her family. One of her elder half-sisters, the same father but a different mother, had come to see her when she was staying in the village and told her that with her looks she would have no problems obtaining a job as a hostess in a Thai night club. She was told that although she would only earn a small basic salary, a lot more could be made by sitting with wealthy Thai customers and earning money from ‘lady’s drinks’ and tips.
Ying knew her way around Bangkok from her years as working as a maid and she knew where some of the busiest Thai night clubs were located. She duly made the rounds in the On Nut area to enquire about a job and it wasn’t long before she attracted the interest of some the night club managers. They could see that her youth and good looks would make her a valuable ‘asset’ to their complement of hostesses and she was quickly snapped up by one of the major clubs, just off On Nut Road.
She had nowhere to live and was carrying her things with her in a small bag, so when she was hired, she was introduced to another young lady who worked there by the name of Gay, who took her under her wing. Gay stayed in a small room nearby and took Ying to stay with her and lent her some of her ‘hostess clothes’ until she had made enough money to buy her own.
At first Ying was extremely shy and tried to avoid having to sit with customers but after a few days she slowly got into the swing of things and started to understand what was required of her as a hostess. There was no obligation for her to go home with a client or to a motel for a short time – though many of the girls did just that to supplement their income – but she was required to sit with customers and let them hold her hands, occasionally cuddle her and even on the odd occasion, kiss her. She found this quite distasteful when she first started working, but within a short while, after she had discovered the joys of alcohol, she found it easier and even enjoyable to smooch with the better looking ‘clients’.
She was young, very pretty and her figure was starting to fill out after the years of semi-starvation in her village and at Surat Thani. She was fast becoming a highly sought after lady at her new place of work. Many customers would go there, specifically to spend a few happy hours in the company of the delectable Ying, only to leave disappointed, as she had already been commandeered for the evening by another customer who had beaten them to it.
Most of the club’s clientele would buy a bottle of premium grade whisky or brandy and after a few weeks, Ying found that she was more than capable of holding her own – drinking glass for glass of whisky or brandy with her wealthy customers. Ying had acquired a taste for alcohol that was to remain with her for many years to come.
Even without ‘sleeping around’, Ying was earning good money from her ‘drinks’ and tips and for the first time in more than two years, she was able to send a small amount of money home to her mother. But it wasn’t enough and her mother still had the loan hanging over her head. Ying didn’t know what to do as she had no intention of selling her body for money.
She had been working as a hostess for about three months when, apart from the countless men who tried, without success, to make her their special girlfriend, she had realised that she was becoming quite serious with two – very different – Thai men. The first was in his early fifties. He was a lawyer and owned his own successful law practise in the nearby district of Prakanong. He admitted to Ying that he was married, but had long since separated.
He was a very kind, gentle man who was more of a father-figure to Ying than a boy-friend. In fact, he was so eager to give advice to this naïve young lady who had little or no experience of life outside of Sa Kaeo, that almost from the start, she called him ‘Paw’, the Thai word for ‘father’. Of course, Ying’s real father had been shot dead, right in front of her, when she was eight years’ old and she was certainly in need of an older, wiser person to steer her through the ‘pitfalls’ of life Thailand’s teeming, exciting and sometimes dangerous capital city.
Paw wanted Ying to come and live with him at his house in a soi off Prakanong, and effectively be his mia noi – minor wife. He told Ying that he would take care of her and treat her very well. Ying had already told Paw of all her family’s financial troubles back home in Sa Kaeo and Paw had promised to pay off her mother’s debts, if she agreed to go and live with him.
Ying wasn’t sure what to do. She had grown quite fond of this likeable, kindly old man, but she could never love him – he was just too old for her. But she wanted to help her poor mother and her younger brothers and sister back home in Sa Kaeo, and this seemed like a heaven-sent opportunity to do just that. Paw was obviously quite well off and she was sure that he would keep his promises. She just couldn’t bring herself to make that final jump.
In the event, she came to a somewhat different decision a couple of weeks later. The second significant man in her life was a very handsome young man called Don. Don had fashionably long hair, was tall, slim and dressed in the latest fashions – beautiful, skin tight, silk shirts and the latest fashion jeans. He used to come to the club several times a week with a group of friends, similarly attired and the girls would almost fight each other for the chance to sit with these fun-loving, big spending young men.
Don had long since made a bee-line for Ying and within a short time he was totally smitten. He was determined to make her his ‘own’ and pursued her with a single-mindedness and a diligence that belied his reputation as a ‘playboy’ who always played the field as far as women were concerned.
Ying was flattered and was literally swept off her feet by this crazy, attractive youth who seemed to be the very antithesis of the dour, spiteful Udom, her first lover. When, one momentous night, Dom implored Ying to leave her job at the nightclub and come and stay with him as his girlfriend, Ying took little time in jumping at the opportunity, but not before she had broken the sad news to Paw, that she had fallen in love with another man.
Paw had seen Don at the night club with his friends and had suffered pangs of jealousy as he watched Don and Ying together, their hands all over each other, clearly in love. But he tried to keep a sense of perspective about it and realised that he would be no match for such a person. He wanted Ying to be happy, but he was concerned about her plans to stop work and shack up with the young man. He warned Ying that although he didn’t know Don personally, he had seen such people many times at clubs through the years and he could tell the type. He felt sure that Don wasn’t all that he purported to be and warned Ying to be very careful.
In truth, Ying knew very little about Don’s background, or indeed what he did for a living, but that didn’t seem to matter in the whirlwind that seemed to overcome her as she packed her belongings and moved in with Don at his apartment, off Sukhumvit Road.
The problems first surfaced when Ying asked Don for some money to send back home to her mother. Don immediately lost his temper and screamed at Ying that he wasn’t going to support her family. Ying then burst into tears, whereupon Don calmed down, came over to where she was sitting and put his hands over her shoulders, to comfort her. He seemed full of remorse for his outburst and told Ying that he would ‘see what he could do’ to find some extra money for her family.
But more rows were to follow, and although the two were clearly crazy about each other, there were issues between them which forever got in the way of a happy relationship. For one thing, Don was very vague about his family and background, and was even vaguer about what he did for a living. He seemed to go out at strange hours and return at even stranger hours, refusing to tell Ying where he had been and what he had been doing.
This would inevitably result in rows, as Ying was extremely jealous and feared the worst.Don would usually solve the problem by taking Ying to bed and totally mesmerising her with his incredibly energetic, sexual prowess. They would make love for so long that in the end, the two were too exhausted to fight any longer.
So life stumbled along for Ying; a mixture of heady highs and depressing lows. Highs when she was with her beloved, in bed making love, and lows when he disappeared, sometimes for days at a time, leaving her stuck in the apartment, wondering if he would ever come back again. It didn’t take Ying long to realise that whatever Don did for a living, it almost certainly wasn’t legal. She could see by the hours he kept, the snatches of telephone conversation she overheard and other tell-tale incidents – like Don returning after an absence of two days wearing brand new clothes and flashing bundles of money, some of which he would begrudgingly give to Ying to send home.
Ying could have learnt to tolerate this topsy-turvy lifestyle if it hadn’t been another, more sinister event. One morning, after a night of passion, she awoke to find her boyfriend injecting heroin into a vein in his left arm. Ying was horrified and berated Don for doing such a terrible thing. But Don just smiled the smile of an addict who was rapidly getting ‘high’, and fell fast asleep.
Later, after Don had returned from yet another two day absence, she raised the subject of his heroin use with him, but he laughed it off, telling her that it was a ‘one off’ and had never done it again. She didn’t really believe him and sure enough, two days later, she found him in the bathroom ‘shooting himself up’ once again. This time a row ensued when Ying tried to take the syringe away from Don and in the end Don became violent, grabbed Ying by the hair and threw her out of the bathroom and locked the door.
From then on there was an uneasy truce between the pair. Don would continue to take heroin and Ying became withdrawn and quiet. She was scared to intervene any more but was even more scared of what was happening to their relationship.
Don had changed. He was no longer the fun-loving, caring young man who had asked her to go and live with him. He was either away from home, getting up to ‘God knows’ what?’, or he stayed at home, sleeping the days away and ‘high’ on heroin for most of the time. They barely made love anymore and Ying feared for herself, her family and her boyfriend’s sanity.
Finally, one day when Don had ‘come down’ from his latesr dose of heroin and before he injected another one, she sat him down and tried to talk to him. She told him that they couldn’t go on like this anymore. She still loved him but couldn’t bear to see him like this. Don told her that he loved her and would try to quit. She informed him that if he didn’t quit she would leave him – her mind was made up.
Don became very emotional. He said that he still loved her and that he couldn’t live without her. Ying told him that the solution was in his hands, and she told him to think very hard about what she had said, because she really, really meant it. She told him she was going out to see her friend, Gay, and hoped that when she returned he would still be free of drugs.
He looked at her – a desperate, frightened look on his face, tears forming at the corners of his eyes and he told her he would try.
Ying left on one of her rare trips from the apartment and took a taxi to On Nut to meet with her old friend, Gay, who still worked at the On Nut night club. Gay had taken the day off from work and they spent the afternoon and evening together, talking about old times and about the customers who still came and asked after Ying.
It was after 10 when Ying made the journey back home to the apartment. She was dreading what she may find as she had a strong suspicion that Don would not have the will power to stay away from the heroin.
But nothing could have prepared her for what she did find. She opened the front door and the apartment was in darkness. There was no sign of Don in the sitting room and she assumed he must have gone out. But then she heard a familiar noise coming from the kitchen. It was the sound of a kitchen ceiling fan that revolved on its axis to cool down anyone who happened to be in there, cooking.
‘He must have forgotten to turn it off’, she thought to herself as she wandered into the kitchen.
She snapped on the light and almost fainted in shock at the sight in front of her. Her beloved Don was hanging from a short piece of rope, his head at an ungainly angle, his feet dangling about nine inches from the floor, a kitchen chair upended a couple of feet away. Don was dead. He had hung himself. She stood and stared at his dangling body, the only noise being the whirring fan that rattled back and forth, slightly ruffling the dead man’s hair as it passed a particular point in its rotation.
Ying would live with the noise of that ceiling fan in her mind for years to come and whenever she went into a room which bore a similar fan, she would refuse to let it be turned on. If there was a similar fan installed in a room where she was living, she would have it removed completely. The fan, and the sight of her dead boyfriend hanging in the kitchen, would bring her so many nightmares in the years to come.
When she had sufficiently recovered from her initial shock, she called for help from the only person she could think of who would be willing to get involved. She called her dear old friend from her nightclub days – Paw. Luckily he had given her his number – just in case she may ever need some help.
Paw was as good as his word and took care of all the arrangements, including calling the police and arranging for the body to be removed from the apartment. Ying was in a daze and remembered very little during the ensuing days as Paw took total control, and moved Ying and her belongings to his house. He put her in her own bedroom and arranged for his maid to look after her.
Although in many ways Ying had now become Paw’s ‘minor wife’ and he took care of all her needs for quite a long period of time, they never actually had a sexual relationship. Ying always refused to let the liaison develop in that manner and Paw accepted it with equanimity. He was nevertheless very enamoured of his young ‘house guest’; maybe he harboured hopes that one day he would be able to break down her resistance. But he was a good man and he was content to steer Ying away from the ‘rocks’ that had nearly smashed her fragile emotions to smithereens and he strived to bring some stability and meaning back into her life.
After a few weeks, when Ying was staying to get over the shock of what had occurred, she told Paw one evening that she would like to train to be a hairdresser and would like to attend ‘hairdressing school. Her mentor was very agreeable to this idea as he felt it would take her mind off the recent tragedy and also provide her with a means to earn a decent living – away from the bars and nightclubs and which would only lead her to yet further misery.
So Ying attended hairdressing school and Paw paid the fees and gave her enough money besides to enable her to send some back to her family in Sa Kaeo. It was the start of a happy and stable period for Ying and during the two years she spent at the school, she made some close friendships who were to be a strong influence on her life for years to come.
Towards the end of her studentship, Paw had started to take other ladies to his bed. One in particular was becoming a regular in his house and she wasn’t too pleased when she discovered that Paw had another young lady in his house, who clearly wasn’t either his wife or his daughter. Things became a little strained in the household so he gently suggested to Ying, that now her schooling was coming to an end, that she could find a small room for herself, move out and get a job as a hairdresser.
Ying wasn’t averse to this proposal as she felt that her life was being quite restricted by having to live with her benevolent and fatherly benefactor. Now that she was more or less over her tragic affair with Don, she wanted to be ‘free’ and start to enjoy life.
Two of her closest friends from the school were graduating at the same time as Ying and they resolved to set up home together in a decent, nicely furnished apartment in On Nut. Paw had met with Ying’s friends and agreed that this would be the best plan for Ying as her two friends could keep a wary eye on her. He had recently taken one of his favourite ladies to come and live with him in his house – this time also sharing his bed – so he told Ying that she should go and live with her friends and that she would have his blessing. It was time, he told her, that she ‘stood on her own feet.’
Ying accepted the situation with good grace and thanked the older man for all his kind and generous help over the past 2 years. Paw eased the ‘break-up’ by giving Ying a very generous sum of money to tide her over until she found a job, and assured her that he would always be there for her if she ever needed help or advice in the future.
In truth, Paw love Ying dearly but he was wise enough to realise that Ying would never return his love, but he felt content to have helped her over the worst period of her life and see her on the road to something better. On Ying’s part, she knew she would always have a wise and loving friend to call upon, if she should ever need one in the future.
Ying moved in with her two friends, Lek and Gung. They were also young and very pretty and all three of them settled down to a life of fun. By day, they scoured the local hair dressing salons, in search of gainful employment and by night, they loved to party. They would get ‘dressed to kill’, go out on the town, get drunk and dance the night away at the most popular pubs and clubs in the area. They were the epitome of ‘good time girls’.
Ying sent some of the money that Paw had given her to her family in Sa Kaeo and used the remainder to live on as she looked for a job. Of her two friends, one had a ‘patron’ who was the general manager of a five-star hotel, and the other had a French boyfriend who came to visit two or three times a years and sent her money for her to live on when he was away, working in Paris.
The three had a number of things in common. They were young, beautiful, knew how to dress, loved to party and get drunk, and were always short of money. By general acknowledgement, Ying was the pick of the bunch. In her mid-twenties, she had grown into a very beautiful young lady. Her figure had filled out and she was now very curvy. Her legs were exquisitely crafted, and whether she wore one of her fashionable, micro mini-skirts, or put on a pair of skin-tight jeans, she would never fail to turn the heads of hot-bloodied men, in a city that was already overflowing with gorgeous ladies.
But not only was she the prettiest and sexiest, she was also the most ebullient when the three of them went for a night out. She was a real charmer and always had Lek, Gung and whatever folk that may have joined the ‘party animals’ during the course of an evening’s merriment, in paroxysms of mirth.
Yes, she was the life and soul of every party but she was also the one who always became the most intoxicated. Lek and Gung always knew when they had enough and either curtailed their drinking or stopped completely, but unlike them, once Ying started to get a little tipsy, her consumption of alcohol would increase rather than decrease. At the start of a typical evening out, she would be daintily sipping on her drinks, but by the time midnight had arrived, Ying was gulping down glasses of neat whisky like there was no tomorrow.
On many occasions she would become so drunk that her friends had to half drag, half carry her home in the small hours where she would invariably collapse, fully clothed on the sofa and sleep the remainder of the night and the next morning away. Sometimes, Ying’s drunken behaviour would result in heated arguments and even fights at late night venues and on more than one occasion the three of them had been thrown out by the management and barred from future entry.
After a while, and before her money had become totally exhausted, Ying managed to find a job at a local hair dresser. Like everything else in her life, she started work with great hope and enthusiasm. Her bubbly personality and good looks soon made her a popular favourite in the salon, but the hours were very long and the salary and tips derisory. So it didn’t take long for Ying to realise that she was not going to be able to support her lifestyle, plus her family in Sa Kaeo on such meagre fare, but not knowing what else she could do, she soldiered on in the vain hope that something would come up – maybe another ‘Paw’ to save her once more.
But no handsome young men appeared on white chargers and after six months of working hard by day and drinking and dancing the nights away, her savings were exhausted, her mother was calling her every day to send some money and she had grown very disillusioned with her job as a hairdresser.
Ying’s final act of desperation was to pawn the few items of jewellery that Paw had bought for her so that she could pay her share of the rent. She didn’t know what to do, and was at the point of despair, when Gung suggested that she try getting a job on one of the ‘farang’ bars that were located in a soi off Sukhumvit road in the Prompong district of Bangkok.
Gung knew the area quite well, as her ‘patron’ was the manager of a nearby hotel. She told Ying that a lot of very rich farangs lived and worked around there and that many of them would go to the Prompong bars when they finished work for the day. She even knew of several girls who had been taken out of the bars and had become wives to these rich foreigners.
Ying spoke hardly any English and thought it was unlikely that any bar would want to hire her, but when she paid a visit to a number of the bars, early the following evening, she found that many were willing to employ her, even though her English was more or less non-existent.
Ying decided on a bar, just off the main drag, called ‘The Extra Office’ as she thought it seemed a bit classier than most. The décor was state of the art, the very large, well-furnished bar had multiple TV screens showing live sports events and the girls looked prettier and dressed better – in their long slinky cocktail dresses. Most of all, the farang customers were mainly young, handsome, well dressed and, she assumed, very wealthy.
Her first day at work was a little overwhelming. She was shocked at the number of girls who worked at the ‘Extra Office’ and wondered how on earth they could all make a –living. She came to work at 3 o’clock in the afternoon along with maybe two dozen other ladies. She then had to cram in behind a large, circular bar with all the other ladies, display her ‘wares’ and hope that a customer would choose her and take her to the other side of the bar to buy her a drink. She felt degraded but obliged to accept the system if she wanted to continue working there.
Ying saw some of the more beautiful girls soon disappear to the other side with clients who obviously knew them and watched as they chatted away in English and downed their ‘lady’s drinks. She couldn’t decide what would be worse: being chosen by a customer to go and have a drink and not being able to speak a word of English, or just stay stuck behind the bar all evening, and not earn any ‘drinks money’ or tips.
That first evening, she stayed behind the bar almost until closing time when, at around midnight, a very drunk, very fat American staggered into the bar, which now only had a handful of girls remaining, Ying of course, being one of them. The drunk took one look at Ying and beckoned her to come and join him on a bar stool. Ying was terrified but did she was asked. The man ordered her a drink and immediately started to grab at her.
Ying instinctively pushed him away, whereupon he called to the ‘mamasan’ who was sitting nearby. He said something in English to her and Ying assumed that he was complaining, and feared for the worst. But he wasn’t complaining; he was asking Ying’s boss if he could take Ying home with him. When her boss translated for her, Ying was horrified and backed away. She would never go with this drunken ugly, fat farang.
Ying was lucky; she was working at a bar where the girls were not obliged to go with the customers if they didn’t want to, although much pressure was brought to bear upon them if a regular customer wanted to bed a particular lady. This was the case with the drunken American and the Mamasan berated Ying loudly for her point blank refusal to go with the man. In the event, the drunk paid his bill and left in disgust. Ying was left in no doubt that her behaviour did not meet the approval of her boss and that her tenure at her new place of employment may prove to be woefully short if she didn’t ‘play the game’.
The next afternoon, as Ying climbed down the long staircase that lead from Prompong Sky train station to Sukhumvit road she feared that today might be her last day of work at the ‘Extra Office’ and she wondered what on earth she was going to do for money. A few minutes later, she arrived at the ‘Extra Office’ and took her place behind the bar, along with all the other girls and hoped that some young, handsome, rich farang would come into the bar and whisk her away.
In the event it wasn’t a young, handsome, rich farang. It was a middle aged, moderately good looking but undoubtedly rich farang who spotted her beautiful countenance, hiding shyly behind the girl standing next to her.
Toby couldn’t believe what he saw. This shy girl standing behind the bar was an absolute stunner and even though it wasn’t his normal ‘modus operandi’ to call a girl over, (he normally waited for them to approach him), he wasted no time in beckoning her to come out and sit next to him at the bar.
Although Ying hadn’t found her ‘dream farang’ she had found a man who could speak passable Thai and seemed to be very kind. She thought he was about the same age as Paw, her previous benefactor and although she wasn’t sexually attracted to him, he didn’t look too bad, having as he did: a tall, slim stature and a good dress sense. He was dressed quite well in an expensive long sleeved shirt, with gold cuff links and well cut, ‘label’ blue jeans; had a good head of hair and was certainly a huge improvement on the drunken, fat slob of the previous evening. Ying grimly realised that if she was to pay her bills and keep her family from starvation, then she had to make some sacrifices.
She was pleased to learn that the Man was English, as she had heard good things about Englishmen; they were supposed to be shy, kind , polite and generous, and everything she had seen of this man at the bar so far, seemed to bear this out. Toby told her he was fifty three years old – later to be revised to fifty seven – and he sat at the bar for about two hours, buying round upon round of drinks for Ying and himself. As the evening drew on, he even bought the mamasan a couple of drinks as he discussed with her his plans to take Ying home with him.
Ying realised that this time around, she had no choice but to accede to her customer’s request – after all that was why she was there – but she had one last trick up her sleeve. It was the age old lie told by thousands of women very day in bars when they were asked to go with a man that they do not wish to have sex with. Ying told Toby that she had menstruation, but Toby was not to be diverted from his purpose and he told Ying that he would still pay for her to go with him and that she could just sleep cheui cheui with him – only sleep – no sex.
She was very happy with this arrangement as she would earn good money from Toby without having to ‘sell’ her body. So the deal was done, and on the way to Toby’s apartment, Ying made him stop his car at a nearby 7/11 where she rushed in and reappeared a few moments later flourishing a plastic bag containing a packet of sanitary towels. She was doing her best to make her deceit plausible.
The rest, as they say, is history. Ying never went back to work at the Extra Office and after Toby had paid the bar fine for a few days, he asked Ying to move in with him permanently. So her very brief career as a bar girl was over.
In all, the pair lived together for five years and for three and a half of those five years, they were married. Toby was indeed quite wealthy and he took great pleasure in trying to make his beautiful bride, Ying , the happiest lady in the world – or so he thought. Ying soon realised that she only had to smile a winning smile and Toby would put his hand into his pocket and pay over more and more money for almost anything that her heart desired. One of the fist things she did was get Toby to pay for a brand new house for her mother and family in Sa Kaeo and they would travel there frequently to review progress on the house construction. When it was eventually finished, the two went there to host a lavish party as a ‘house warming’ for the newly completed, two storey, five bedroom house, complete with a modern kitchen and all mod cons.
A few months later, the new house was to play host to another party when Ying and Toby went through a Thai marriage ceremony, following the legal one that had been conducted at a local government office in Bangkok a few days earlier. The party involved the entire village. A huge stage was erected for the live band next to Ying’s house and about five hundred of Ying’s relatives, friends and hangers on had a night they were never to forget.
Neither were Toby and Ying. Ying’s three closest friends had travelled from Bangkok to join in the celebrations and just when the party was all but over, Ying, who had been drinking steadily for more than eight hours, decided to pick a drunken fight with her friends. The fighting became so intense that members of Ying’s family had to pull them apart and the end result was that the three women left the village in the middle of the night to return to Bangkok and Ying, Lek and Gung never spoke to each other again.
Of course Toby was by no means immune from the drunken tantrums of his beautiful wife and the two of them lived a highly traumatic, emotionally charged existence. Sometimes fights would erupt between them for no reason other than Ying becoming a little too drunk and suddenly reaching her ‘tipping’ point; a point where she was no longer everyone’s friendly fun -loving drunk, but she had turned into a vicious, snarling beast who would destroy everything in her path.
This would include Toby, her husband, who, over the years, had spent many a night nursing wounds to his face, body and arms when his beloved wife had hit, punched scratched and even bitten him in her tormented, drunken temper tantrums.
Toby too had changed. His wife’s behaviour had helped to turn him into an alcoholic who was rapidly becoming even worse than his wife, if that was possible. Ying would always have days, even weeks, when she was well behaved and then she would go on a drunken binges and all Hell would be let loose. But Toby started to drink virtually every day and he learnt to match his wife, shout for shout, insult for insult, curse for curse in the drunken anger department. But unlike his wife, Toby never resorted to violence.
They would always eventually make up – no matter how serious the fight appeared at the time, and Toby would invariably cement the repairing of the relationship with yet another token of generosity. Early on in the marriage, he had bought Ying a brand new car, and he followed this up with all manner of expensive gifts, including the purchase of a rubber plantation up-country and the purchase of yet more land in Ying’s village.
They had been together two years when they moved to Pattaya into a huge house that Toby had built there. Once they had settled in, Ying’s son, Mac,now nine years old, came to live with them and he attended school in Pattaya.
But if Toby thought that by moving to Pattaya and setting up a family home with Ying’s son would make Ying settle down as a contented, home-loving wife and mother, he was sadly mistaken.
Although Ying was happy that she now longer needed worry about money and that her family was well taken care of, she was restless and bored with life at her home in Pattaya, which was out of town near a lake, some twenty kilometres from the nearest ‘action’. She was still a young woman and yearned for her fun –loving days in Bangkok at the On Nut night club where she used to work and also the drunken times she used to have with her friends at the down town discos and clubs. She just wasn’t ready to settle down to a life of domesticity with a man who was twice her age and who she didn’t love.
She did enjoy some good times with him – especially when he took her on two luxury cruises out of Singapore and in particular, she enjoyed the holiday they had spent in England and Scotland, when she had met Toby’s family and he had taken her to see all the sights: from London, to the Lake district to the Scottish highlands.
But she just couldn’t stay at home and she couldn’t stay away from alcohol and she couldn’t stay away from other men. She was forever ‘disappearing’ from the family home, only to return, days or even weeks later, exhausted after a riotous time in Pattaya or Bangkok with friends, and other men.
Ying knew she was in the wrong, knew that she was hurting Toby so much, but she just couldn’t stop herself. Maybe she had been through too many emotional traumas in her life and had suffered too many mental scars to settle down to a ‘normal’ life of domesticity. There was little doubt that at thirty-three she was a fully-fledged alcoholic, and that this was at the very core of her unquenchable urge to ‘behave badly’.
Every time Ying disappeared, sometimes just for one night and other times for days at a time, she was always returned home in trepidation, for she knew what would await her. There would be the inevitable rows – terrible rows – as Toby could simply not accept his wife’s behaviour. He had come very close to catching her with other men on several occasions and had enough circumstantial evidence – text messages containing declarations of love and bills for phone calls to strange men in even stranger foreign countries – to fill a book.
But in true Thai tradition, as long as Ying continued to deny everything and fight fire with fire – accusing Toby of his own drunken nights out and his own infidelity – some of which was undoubtedly true, then an uneasy, unhappy peace would eventually return to the household.
Deep down, Ying knew that her marriage was in bad shape and that sooner or later it would fall apart. She did not love Toby, but she felt a huge empathy for him and worried about him and his failing health. She truly wanted him to stay with her until he grew old and she always hoped that she could take care of him in his old age. But she also wanted to enjoy her life and have her drunken nights out and enjoy the occasional sex with younger men that she met from time to time.
She tried hard, but could never change the way she behaved. Sometimes she would stay home for weeks, even months and play the role of loving wife, but then a friend would call her or come to visit and her resolve was gone and she was off.
In the last two years they were together, Toby had packed his bags and left Ying on no less than three occasions before the final, fateful occasion in October 2009. On all the previous occasions, he had agreed to return home after Ying had apologised for her behaviour and had sworn to him that it would never happen again.
On one occasion, they had even reached the point of talking to a lawyer about a divorce settlement. On that particular occasion, Ying arrived at the lawyer’s office for the divorce meeting dressed like a million, very sexy dollars. Toby took one look at her, the first time he had seen her in several weeks, and immediately allowed himself to be persuaded, in the presence of his lawyer, to return home and give the marriage another go.
After Toby had relented on three previous occasions, Ying thought that regardless of what she did, she would always be able to lure him back home. She knew that Toby was a totally and irreversibly in love with her and she was convinced that he could never live without her.
She was wrong. One October night, when Ying had gone to Bangkok to visit with friends and her son was fast asleep with his uncle who was taking care of him, Toby stacked up his car with everything he thought he could possibly need in his new life and left home for the final time.
At first Ying was totally distraught. She had lived with Toby for so long now that she didn’t know how to live without him – even though she didn’t love him. For several months she was given to understand that Toby had left Thailand forever, but finally through a friend, she discovered that he was living in a condo in Jomtien, just south of Pattaya.
Eventually, Toby made contact with her as they still had the house between them. It was agreed that they would sell the house, divide the proceeds and then go through a divorce.
Ying knew that things weren’t going well with her estranged husband when he called her early one morning and asked her to come and help him. He was in a bar in Pattaya at five a.m. completely drunk and unable to move. This was the first of many occasions when Toby was to call on Ying for help. He had turned into a total alcoholic – worse than Ying herself – and was always getting into scrapes – some very serious, sometimes involving police and at other times he would end up in hospital. It was the familiar tale of a Pattaya drunk who was slowly drinking himself to death – either by an excess of alcohol in his system or, more likely, by having some fatal accident when he was drunk.
Ying, along with his few friends, implored him not to drive when he was drinking. Sometimes he followed their advice, but on other occasions he would still believe he could drive safely – even when severely under the influence.
Her point was well and truly proven one day, when the Pattaya police contacted Ying to enquire after Toby’s whereabouts. They told her that he had been reported for a ‘hit and run’ in the middle of the afternoon and the victim was very angry and was pressing charges. It took not a little of Ying’s charms and a great deal of Toby’s money to extricate himself from that little mess, and Ying was getting very tired of it all.
Then, three months ago, Toby had called Ying from the emergency department of Pattaya hospital. He had fallen over and badly smashed his wrist and urgently required surgery. But he was so drunk he didn’t know what was really happening to him and had called Ying to come and sort it all out for him.
Ying had grown weary of bailing Toby out. She was slowly re-building her life, had opened a new hair dressing salon and was trying to get her life back together without Toby and his money. She looked at the time – 2.30 in the morning; she really didn’t want to make the thirty minute journey to Pattaya at that hour of the morning, but realising that there was no one else who could help him, she roused herself, got out of bed and drove to the hospital.
Once there, she spoke to the surgeons, sorted out Toby’s medical insurance and waited until the surgery had been completed and he was safely tucked up and recovering a private room. When Toby woke up, several hours later, she told him that this was the last time he could call on her for help. She had done quite enough for him and if he wanted to kill himself, then he could go ahead and do so. But don’t ever call her again because she was done with him! Toby promised her faithfully that he would never call her again and he would never again get into this kind of trouble
Her final words to him were: ‘And whatever you do, don’t ever drink and drive again’
‘I won’t, I promise’, Toby replied, ‘I promise.’
Ying lay in bed – she still couldn’t sleep. It seemed like several lifetimes ago that she had stood in tatters, outside her ramshackle home in Sa Kaeo and seen her father shot down in cold blood. So much had happened in her short life – so much had happened to bring her here, all alone, at the age of thirty four in a huge house, with a car in the driveway and who knows what for the coming months and years? These days, Toby barely gave her enough money to pay the utility bills. He was also broke and very soon, even that money was going to dry up. There was no way they were going to be able to sell the house in the foreseeable future. The market was dead – no one was buying.
Finally, she dozed off. She drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep when suddenly the screeching sound of a Thai rock song pierced the silence of the morning. She slowly regained consciousness, wondering for a moment where the music was coming from. Then she knew what it was. The music was coming from her phone – her mobile phone was ‘ringing’.
She grabbed hold of the phone and without looking at the number; she put it to her lips and answered: ‘Hello’
‘Hello, Khun Ying?’
‘Yes. Who is that?’
‘This is Pattaya Police station, I am Lieutenant Somkid. We would like you to come here immediately and see us.’
‘Why? Why? What have I done?’
‘You have done nothing – it’s your husband. We want to you to come here and talk to us about your husband. He is in a lot of trouble.’
‘My husband! He doesn’t live with me anymore. He left me ages ago! I can’t come – I’m not free!’
‘Khun Ying, if you don’t come here and help your husband, he will be in very serious trouble. He will go to jail.’
‘I don’t care! I don‘t care! Fuck my fucking husband! I don’t care what happens to him. I told him! I warned him! I don’t care what happens to him!’
‘Khun Ying, if you don’t come down her immediately and help him, your husband might even die.’
‘I don’t fucking care!’ Let him fucking die!’
She cut off the call, turned off her phone, and closed her eyes, praying that sleep would come back again and blot out the images in her mind.
‘Fuck Toby. Fuck him…fuck him… fuck him…’